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Dev Game Club

Join hosts and game industry veterans Brett Douville and Tim Longo as they explore older titles to talk about the influences those games had and what we can learn from them even today.
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Now displaying: March, 2018
Mar 28, 2018

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where we continue to discuss a pair of very early Sierra adventure games, beginning with 1984's King's Quest: Quest for the Crown. Having finished the game, we discuss the ways in which different puzzles work and what aspects are frustrating and how it might all have gotten that way. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Finish King's Quest 1

Issues covered: getting through without hints, remembering puzzles and forgetting stuff, rule-breaking and rocks, leaning into fairy tales, thinking about the game away from it, the better manual, verbs with rare usages or no usages, the Rumplestiltskin puzzle, good for streaming or not, dying from the rock, timing and waiting, the difficulty of the game Deadline, things not appearing on screens, characters that don't appear all the time, not knowing what you're not seeing, the well and figuring out what to do there through dying, dealing with the dragon, solving puzzles multiple ways, timing your throw at the dragon, using water in the pail all over, supporting lots of weird choices, finding the use of the bucket and not experimenting further, verbs you use only once, looking at objects in your inventory, XYZZY, piecing together a series of steps, the Leprechaun puzzle, multiple solutions as a usability issue, losing the goat, giving treasure to the troll, fallback solutions, being able to ignore various obstacles, encouraging exploration, no RPG-style combat, the Fairy Godmother spell, dealing with the witch, lack of mapping between manual and game, eating the witch's house, the fullness of the world, climbing the beanstalk and being high on the foliage, fighting the parser, thinking the pebbles might be for the wolf, sick fairy tales, a sleeping giant, navigating the beanstalk, differences in world structure between different adventure games, proving out the capabilities of a new engine, showstopping spots in an adventure that's more linear, playing a game together, ARGs and the appeal of playing with a crowd, breaking Tim Sr with Space Quest, giving away carrots, goat eating your carrots, top-down design vs bottom-up design, 500K copies sold, relegislating the sexism, The Boss, aspiring to be Solid Snake, getting interested in real world topics via games, creators who are drawn to real-world issues, not fully embracing a difficult topic, having a hard time getting that stuff funded, various examples, escapism in entertainment, fun MGS bits.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Roberta and Ken Williams, Deadline, Infocom, LucasArts, Ron Gilbert, Edge of Tomorrow, Wizard of Oz, Advent, Grimm Fairy Tales, Space Quest, Day of the Tentacle, Zork, Two Guys from Andromeda, Mark Crowe, Scott Murphy, Reed Knight, Super Metroid, Super Mario World, Metroid, Quest for Glory (series), Manhunter, Betrayal at Krondor, Police Quest, Leisure Suit Larry, Blarg42, Final Fantasy IX, Metal Gear (series), Bioshock, Tom Clancy, Far Cry 2, Hideo Kojima, This War of Mine, Papers Please, Cart Life, Valiant Hearts, UbiSoft, Far Cry 5, Sean Vanaman, Jake Rodkin, Firewatch, Gone Home, Wolfenstein, Star Wars, Yoji Shinkawa.

Next time:
Play until you reach the first planet in Space Quest

Links/Notes:
Note - the XYZZY Awards still exist!

Dialog with Campbell et al about your mono TV

@brett_douville, @timlongojr, and @devgameclub
DevGameClub@gmail.com

Mar 21, 2018

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where we are discussing a pair of very early Sierra adventure games, beginning with 1984's King's Quest: Quest for the Crown. We talk a bit about Sierra and its early contributions to games as a whole and the specific form of the adventure game, setting it in context and discussing taste. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
"About half" of King's Quest

Issues covered: crossing a drawbridge, being top of the game food chain, the rise and fall and rise of adventure games, establishing a formula early on, being unable to get games, hint lines, IBM funding, sweet development deal, four-color video cards, reusable engines, general-purpose machines vs custom machines, leveraging programming work, local-ish company, building a string of franchises, first developers whose names you know, typing in directions, diving into the manual, how to make an adventure game map, the need to restart, lack of direction, number pad, playing with a parser, getting source code for text adventures, verb usability in LucasArts vs Sierra, finding parser edges and the sense of discovery, one-use verbs, having visual feedback in addition to the parser, open world exploration in the parser, different taste in adventures and animation, a brainy game, experimentation, engineers vs pure designers, character mechanics, timing element, hint books, using friends like a hint line, pen and paper similarity, willing suspension of disbelief, blocking off inaccessible areas via art, the wrap-around map, connected world, usability decision?, multi-use puzzles and inventory items, waiting for things, relying on fairy tale lore.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: LucasArts, Day of the Tentacle, Apple ][, Infocom, Wizard and the Princess, Roberta and Ken Williams, Egghead Software, IBM, Out of this World/Another World, Karateka, Dynamix, Vivendi, CUC International, Havas, Andromeda, Zork, ADVENT/Colossal Cave Adventure, Ultima, Tetris, ExciteBike, Marble Madness, Montezuma's Revenge, Commodore 64, Ancient Art of War, Ballblazer, Archon, Lode Runner, Disney, Pixar, Ubisoft, Dark Souls, Felix the Cat, Warner Bros, Ralph Bakshi, Mystery House, Manhole, HyperCard, Cyan, Myst, Enchanter, Lost Treasures of Infocom, Activision, Dungeons and Dragons, Greensleeves, Ultima Underworld, Pac-Man, Lucas Rizoli, Space Quest, Leisure Suit Larry, Police Quest, Daryl Gates.

Note:
It might have been more accurate to say source might have been "assembled" rather than "interpreted"

Links:
Duncan Fyfe on PQ4, writing for Waypoint

Next time:
Finish King's Quest

@brett_douville, @timlongojr, and @devgameclub
DevGameClub@gmail.com

Mar 14, 2018

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where we are discussing 1992's immersive sim classic Ultima Underworld. We talk about how the game comes together at the end and the interconnectedness of it all before we turn to our pillars and takeaways. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Finished the game!

Podcast breakdown:
0:42 Segment 1: finishing the game
44:23 Break
44:59 Segment 2: Takeways and feedback

Issues covered: serviceable weapons, Tim realizes he never beat the game before, reuniting pieces of key, going in between levels, breaking down a door, getting a little help from your friends, cup talisman, the taper being a different piece of art, the writ of Lorne, killing all the trolls, Tim finds nine talismans, the crux ansata, Tom and Judy quest, themes of loss throughout the game, the lost world of Cabirus, thematic storytelling here vs larger open worlds, usability issues and keeping track, missing clues and having to scour levels, having an unbreakable sword, worrying about the final room, anticlimactic final room, the final maze and its length, hallucinatory images while running away, dream sequences in Max Payne, wearing the special crown, the moonstone room, Brett ends with a ton of scrolls, wondering about other skill possibilities, finishing at level 15/16, clip of the ending screen, interconnected quests and dungeon, being nervous about a game being broken, QAing this game and finding workarounds, hinting at how to move around the dungeon space, getting frustrated to the point of exploring the non-obvious, the game that justifies the inclusion of quest journals, the wane that proceeds the RPG renaissance, full commitment to simulation, simulating the staleness of food, leaving bloodspots, pushing forward to any idea you could think of, supporting the core fantasy of being in this place, interconnecting systems, focusing on one dungeon, committing to a motivating idea, balance, interconnected levels, pen and paper games, fallen utopia, old rotten and seasoned, choosing enemy types, borrowing from the main games, using archetypes, picking characters based on their abilities and lore, orthogonal design in enemies, varieties of damage types, top-down vs bottom-up approach, potentially bad tropes to take into here, lack of random monster encounters, balancing for different sorts of characters, separating systems, iterating on numbers, leaning on QA, changing enemy behaviors based on weapons, putting the onus on the player, cheating on behalf of the player, GDC and planned interview, parser games.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Ultima (series), Mark Eldridge, Max Payne, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Origin, Baldur's Gate, Gold Box games, Martian Dreams Ultima Adventure, Wolfenstein, Doom, The Elder Scrolls: Arena, H. P. Lovecraft, Icewind Dale, The Witcher (series), Bard's Tale, Eye of the Beholder, Dungeons & Dragons, Underworld: Ascendant, Mark *Sean* Garcia, Tader Chip, Maas Neotek Proto/Keane, Republic Commando, Halo, Diablo, Brian Taylor, Metal Gear Solid, Skyrim, Deus Ex, Sierra Games, LucasArts, King's Quest, Space Quest, Day of the Tentacle, GOG.com, Wizard and the Princess.

Next time:
King's Quest I, "About half"

@brett_douville, @timlongojr, and @devgameclub
DevGameClub@gmail.com

Mar 7, 2018

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where we are discussing 1992's immersive sim classic Ultima Underworld. We take a deeper dive into the leveling system and the magic system and talk about the intersection of RPGs and immersive sims and the various analog elements of this game in particular. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Levels 4-6

Issues covered: rotworm stew, taking notes and having too much to sort through, keeping track using the map, space for a legend, cartography, how the leveling system works vs other games, strengths and weakness of a leveling system, ceding control of the player experience to the RNG, rewarding the finding of mantras and pushing you to search for them, awarding of XP, pushing you to other skills via randomness, sticking with the Sword of Justice because it doesn't break, the intersection of two very difficult genres in terms of balancing, encouraging you to fully explore the map, finding an angry ghost and a talking door, mixing runes to come up with spells, the consistency of 8 virtues and 8 races and 8 talismans, role-playing your decisions, embracing the pen and paper origins, combat pacing and space with magic and weapon timing, swinging a weapon and hitting a wall, weapon mechanics, the tale of Sir Rodrick, essential objects and the possibility of losing the game, sources of weird rendering artifacts, potential optimizations to avoid clipping, Longo Rooms, low fidelity games, using the silver seed for resurrection -- Tim teaches Brett a trick, tracking ownership of objects, identifying AI state using the look button, analog fidelity of systems, inter-level connections of quests and objects, adventure game elements, finding a moonstone and other favorite moments, Tim confesses his hacker past.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Dungeons & Dragons, Warren Spector, Planescape: Torment, Gold Box games, Eye of the Beholder, GURPS/Steve Jackson Games, Wolfenstein 3D, Mark Eldridge.

Next time:
Finish the game! (Levels 7 & 8)

@brett_douville, @timlongojr, and @devgameclub
DevGameClub@gmail.com

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